ROXBURY - The job is more than holding on to a long rope attached to Spider-Man, Snoopy or Kermit the Frog. For one Macy's Thanksgiving Parade Balloon handler, it's carrying on a tradition.
John Summers says he never thought he'd enjoy the task, especially when there are less than favorable conditions at the annual New York City parade.
The Roxbury man says the elements don't bother him because he loves the job. He's thankful to be doing it year after year in honor of the man who got him started nearly a decade ago.
"It was a thing my father and brother would do every year and they kept saying you should do it with us," Summers says. "I said it's not my thing. The one year I decided to do it, it ended up being the last year my father was alive."
John Summers Sr. passed away unexpectedly just a few months after his son first walked in the parade.
"It was one of the last things I did with my father, and something he enjoyed," Summers says. "When we were kids, he took us to the parade, and he worked at Macy's, so for him to be part of it was amazing."
Summers says his father lives on through him each year. He's sure he is still beaming as he watches his son carry on a Thanksgiving tradition.
Summers says he now loves the honor just as much as his dad did. "I tell you, I didn't think it was something I’d like, but I fell in love with it. You go there, and everyone is super happy, you know," he says.
This year, Summers is part of the team handling the Papa Smurf balloon.
There are hundreds of balloon handlers every year. Handlers must work at Macy's or be sponsored by someone who does. Summers' father took a temporary job at the Rockaway store in the 1990s and never gave it up so he could continue marching in the parade.
For interview with Macy's balloon handler, watch the clip to the left or click News 12 Extra on Optimum TV channel 612.